Although countless in number and scope, studies and books on Christian origins seldom focus on rituals. Scholars of the New Testament and early Christianity have by and large been interested in other aspects of the emerging early Christian religion, such as the teachings of Jesus or Paul, the religious experiences of the first followers, and the development and variety of doctrinal ideas reflected in early Christian sources. Even socialscientific criticism of the New Testament and other early Christian texts has given surprisingly little consideration to the role of ritual in the formation of the early Christian movement and in the social life of early communities, although the study of ritual has a long history in anthropology and, during the past few decades, ritual studies has established itself as an independent field in religious and cultural studies (Grimes 1985; 1990; 1995; Bell 1992; 1997).